Don’t settle: Find a healthcare provider who really cares

What’s on your wish list for an ideal healthcare provider? It’s a question some people never really ask themselves. While, certainly, most people may not have their choice of every provider under the sun, you don’t have to settle for working with someone who’s not a good fit for you. And there’s a lot you can do to ensure that you’re working with a provider who provides you with respectful, thoughtful, relevant, and safe care. 

At a bare minimum, you deserve to work with a healthcare provider who treats you with respect. What this looks like in practice is that the provider listens to your wishes, concerns, and preferences for care. It also means that they explain things plainly and honestly, and welcome your questions. They should encourage you to feel in control of your body and your care. Threats or taking things personally are not appropriate forms of healthy communication in healthcare.

Beyond this, ideally, you can also work with a healthcare provider who makes you feel comfortable. When you’re being cared for by a provider who you’re not that comfortable with, it can present a number of challenges that can stand in the way of you getting quality care. This sort of discomfort can make it feel hard to communicate with your provider honestly or to really feel heard. Some folks do find that thanking their provider for hearing their concerns can be a good place to start in expressing their wants and needs. For example, you could say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about my concerns. It’s important for me to have a healthy baby and a positive birth experience. It sounds like you recommend clear liquids only during labor. Are you also OK with me having something light, such as graham crackers?” This can be a meaningful tool to feel a bit more comfortable.  

But to find someone who you’re really comfortable with, you may want to seek out even more personalized care and work with a provider who can offer you culturally relevant care.  This might mean that you prefer a provider who is from your community, shares your religious or other beliefs, or identifies the same way as you. Care that’s personalized in this way — where you feel like your provider really gets you, understands where you’re coming from, and who you feel truly comfortable being yourself with — can be incredibly meaningful. For example, if you’re Black, you may want to work with a Black care provider, if that’s possible. Black midwifery groups, Black doula groups, and other such organizations or community health groups exist to provide just this sort of care. 

Keeping some of these things in mind can ensure that you find a healthcare provider who feels like a true partner in your care.

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